New York State of Mind Amoeblog #63: Beaux Arts, Subway Scratching, Slick Rick The Ruler, Homeboy Sandman, Paul Mooney + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 15, 2014 07:27am | Post a Comment

Above is what was once the beautiful piece of New York City architecture that was Pennsylvania Station (circa 1918) that was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. However this stunning building - once one of Manhattan's architectural along with Grand Central Terminal - was tragically demolished in the 1960s to make way for Madison Square Garden's current structure (the actual railway station is still underground). Tragic as this shortsighted move was, the silver lining to this dark cloud was that the absolutely ridiculous decision to destroy this magnificent building led to the landmarking and protecting of other buildings in New York City so that they would not suffer the same fate. Jackie Kennedy Onassis - a longtime advocate for historic preservation of buildings including a part of the White House - was among those outraged by such demolitions and she was instrumental, some years later, in making sure that the same fate did not happen to Grand Central Terminal - also a Beaux-Arts building - which could have been razed too in the 70's had she and others not stepped in to fight for its preservation.

Slick Rick, whose 1988 album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick was recently reissued on vinyl and is available at each Amoeba store, will be headlining at the Brooklyn Bowl on Friday, January 17th. The album whose fans include Nas (he called it the record, that featured tracks such as “'Children's Story," his favorite album of all time) is a true timeless hip-hop classic that, like Nas' Illmatic, earned the elusive five mics score from The Source magazine upon its release. What looked, at the time, like a very bright future for the artist turned out to be anything but.

Not only did Slick Rick's subsequent releases never match the peak of that '88 release but the British born artist endured a series of serious legal issues. These included serving six years for attempted murder - although he would years later in 2008 receive an  unconditional pardon from the NY governor. He also faced problems with the INS that resulted in him being deported. But in recent years things seem to be back on track for Slick Rick The Ruler and this Brooklyn show should be a memorable event with the artist promising to do many of his classics from back in the day. Tix are $15 for this 9pm show, 21+ more show info.

Saturday night, Jan 18th, at the same Brookyn Bowl venue is the ever popular Hip-Hop Karaoke night which just seems to get bigger and bigger and demand larger venues. Tix $5 - $8. More info. Also on Saturday night over in Manhattan is my personal concert pick of the week (see flyer above): Stones Throw artist Homeboy Sandman headlining along with talented opening acts YC The Cynic, I Am Many, Open Mike Eagle, and Tone Tank at the Gramercy Theatre on East 23rd St. 8pm show. Tix here.

On Sunday January 19th the interrelated David Lowery bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven will both play the Highline Ballroom. More info. And Friday night, Jan 17th, Morris Day and The Time play BB King's Blues Club - two shows: 8pm and 10:30pm but tix are pricey. More info here.

Tomorrow night, Jan 16th, at BB Kings is longtime stand up comedian Paul Mooney who, despite or rather in spite of a career of being one of the most cutting edge satirical comedians - never afraid to weigh in on his no-holds barred views on race relations in America, has never become as huge as he deserves to be. Instead the Bay Area raised comedian / writer, who has helped make others famous through his writing (he has written for Richard Pryor, In Living Color, Sanford and Son, and written for and appeared on Chappelle's Show - to cite but a fraction of his body of work), continues to work the club circuit five decades into his career.

The good thing about this for fans of his work is that you can always get to see him in intimate club settings such BB Kings where he plays this week. However, as someone who has seen him several times in comedy clubs, be warned that he has no qualms at directing his caustic comedic ire at audiences members (usually white people) and making them the butt of his jokes. So if you do not have a thick skin try and get a table outside his immediate range of the first row. 8pm show tomorrow (Jan 16th). Tix/info here.

Posted on YouTube a few days ago the video below is just sheer brilliance and will appeal to hip-hop and DJ fans the most. It is where a group of guys very carefully planned and executed an impromptu scratch DJ set on a NYC subway car - with a full DJ set up (two turntables and mixer in a coffin plus Serato  on a laptop wirelessly connected and hand held by one of the support team) plus amplification which is illegal so they were risking arrest. However the whole set up, DJ performance, and set take down at the end of the subway car was all done between two stations so the risk was minimized since they saw no cops when they got on the train and none could get on between stations since the car door were locked.


The Prisoner of Second Avenue trailer (1975)

Above is the trailer for the recommended 1975 film The Prisoner of Second Avenue starring Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft, and Gene Saks that is based on the play of the same name by Neil Simon (he wrote the screenplay too) that premiered on Broadway four years earlier. It is a great movie on many levels including the fact that it so perfectly captures New York City in the mid 70's and the excellent acting. The interplay between Lemon's and Bancroft's characters is highly entertaining as they run through a series issues as a troubled middle-aged couple living on Second Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan dealing with non-stop problems including the noise of the city and a garbage strike - all in the  middle of a hot New York City summer. It is available on DVD and hence likely found in the isles of one of the Amoeba Music stores - not on the website here though when I checked this week.

5Pointz after the paint-over, before the destruction (early 2014)

Relevant Tags

New York State Of Mind (92), New York (59), Nyc (85), Grand Central Terminal (6), Ny State Of Mind Amoeblog (63), Cracker (1), Camper Van Beethoven (3), David Lowery (2), New York City (101), Penn Station (2)